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Open Access Open Badges Case report

Spontaneus bilateral pedicle fracture 30 years after Harrington Instrumentation for idiopathic scoliosis: a case report

Peter Obid*, Alexander Richter, Hüseyin Übeyli and Thomas Niemeyer

Author Affiliations

Asklepios Klinik St. Georg, Abt. für Wirbelsäulen- und Skoliosechirurgie, Lohmühlenstraße 5, 20099 Hamburg, Germany

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Journal of Medical Case Reports 2012, 6:29  doi:10.1186/1752-1947-6-29

Published: 23 January 2012



Spontaneous fractures of the spine are a common entity. They usually occur in older people with osteoporosis. This case is presented on account of its rarity. To the best of the authors' knowledge only one case of an osteoporotic pedicle fracture after Harrington Instrumentation has been described before.

Case presentation

We report the case of a 46-year-old Caucasian woman who underwent surgery due to idiopathic scoliosis with a Harrington Instrumentation (T4 to L3) 30 years ago. During the operation she was infected with hepatitis C while receiving erythrocyte concentrates and has suffered from liver cirrhosis since then. She presented with a sudden pain in her lower back and paraesthesia in both her legs but no other neurological symptoms. A computed tomography scan showed a bilateral pedicle fracture of L3 and an additional compression fracture of L4. In the first session we performed a dorsal stabilization with massive intraoperative bleeding and a postoperative failure of liver synthesis. In a second session an additional ventral augmentation was done. After the second operation she developed a hepatorenal syndrome. Both operations left the patient in a very critical state which led to a prolonged stay in the intensive care and rehabilitation unit. At her 12-month follow-up visit, she was free of complaints.


The un-physiological load of the spine after Harrington Instrumentation can lead to osteoporosis due to inactivity even in younger patients. Although these implants are not used anymore one should keep this possibility in mind when dealing with patients who have received Harrington rods in surgical procedures.